Beer cocktails are quickly shaping up to be a hot new trend just in time for the end of spring and the beginning of the summer. There are three basic types of beer cocktails: adding non-alcoholic mixers like juices or coffee, mixing beers or adding liquor and other fancy cocktail ingredients that real adults use.

All you really need to measure is a shot glass and your tastebuds. Beer cocktails range from “a drink by the pool” to “trying to impress your girlfriend’s dad.”

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a good cold brew, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg that just so happens to taste better when it’s melting into a pool of liquor and bitters.

The Wesleyan

A photo posted by Food52 (@food52) on

Level of sophistication: “Impressing your girlfriend’s dad and it working.”

I nicknamed this one after one of my mentors venturing into the cocktail world, and it is my personal favorite out of these five. This one is comprised of maple syrup, a shot of lemon juice, bitters, whiskey and a Yazoo pale ale. You can also substitute sorghum for the maple syrup.

Pour about half of the beer into the glass and add as much whiskey as you’d like, but one or two shots should be the limit as to not overpower the ale. The ale and the whiskey compliment each other’s aggressiveness well, although the ale lessens the burn of the whiskey.

The syrup acts as a mediator among the sharp, acidic tones of the drink. If you like whiskey, old fashions, or Manhattans, this one is for you. The recipe can be found here.

The Snakebite

A photo posted by bonappetitmag (@bonappetitmag) on

Level of sophistication: “John Adams drank this British recipe, even after the Revolutionary War.”

This is an old English recipe that really deserves some praise for simplicity and taste. All you need is some hard cider and a pale ale, preferably an IPA.

If you feel like getting crazy, I would suggest finding a good high gravity pale ale and high gravity cider. Mix the two half and half, and you’re done.

The sweetness of the cider and the bitterness of the ale mix splendidly. The sharp notes of the IPA or pale ale are toned down and given an apple aftertaste by the cider.

I highly recommend this one as a refreshing drink in the sun, or for breakfast if you feel like celebrating American heritage.

The Sam

A photo posted by Samantha Spector (@saloonbox) on

Level of sophistication: “The kind of classic ease that Frank Sinatra would be proud of.”

Nicknamed after my other mentor in this venture, and inspired by this recipe. This drink is for all you gin lovers out there. This one is made of elderflower liquor like St. Germain, a pilsner, and molasses. Sorghum can work as a good substitute for the molasses.

As far as the pilsner goes, I would suggest something with a lot of flavor like Mama’s Little Yella Pils by Oskar Blues or a good German pilsner, which have a more rounded taste than domestics like Miller Light or Budweiser.

That will matter, because if you have a flat, bland pilsner then the juniper taste of the gin and the floral notes of the St. Germain will overpower it completely, which won’t necessarily be bad. It just won’t be quite as good and will taste a little watered down.

With a fuller pilsner, the notes will all compliment well, the pilsner and the syrup leveling the balance of the body.

The Pampel-weizen

Level of sophistication: “Boozy by the pool.”

This is similar to a Hefeweizen but with white grapefruit juice instead of banana juice. Here is a good recipe. It takes grapefruit juice, wheat beer, and gin.

Grab a wheat beer with a full, unfiltered body, and pour into a glass until the glass is about two-thirds full. Next, add about two shots of white grapefruit juice and two shots of gin. Then, go find a body of water and some warm sun to enjoy this by.

The forward bitter taste of the juice is mellowed by the wheat beer, then a bit snappy with a piney, gin finish. It tastes sort of like having juice on top of a mountain.

The grapefruit forward and the cool, gin finish really makes this a refreshing and light drink. The beer acts more as a medium in which the other tastes can play.

The Black Velvet

A photo posted by ART (@1st_lounge) on

Level of sophistication: “Popping bottles in your work clothes.”

This is a classic recipe that just calls for champagne and Guinness, fifty-fifty. You can find the recipe here.

I tried playing around with this one by substituting Terrapin’s Moo-hoo as well as Duck Rabbit’s milk stout for the Guinness, but the key to this drink is the dry, stout taste of the Guinness.

The champagne moves any beer off of your tongue in an interesting way, but the other stouts were too heavy and kind of tasted like a Tootsie-Roll Pop, the grape flavor strangely.

The sharpness of the dry stout highlights the sweet bubbly in a much more compatible way, so that you can feel the stout bubbling along your tongue. The dryness of the two fit together to create little of an aftertaste, and make the cocktail easy to drink.

This can also be made with Guinness and apple cider, which is known as a poor man’s black velvet, but the champagne is far more fun than the cider in terms of taste. The sweet cider balances the dryness of the stout, but it doesn’t move in your mouth in the same way and the cider lingers longer than the champagne.

These five recipes are just a start, but it’s nice to have a change in what you’re drinking. Beer cocktails can be fun to try with your friends, and another reason to have a drink after a long day of classes.

For more ideas of creative ways to use beer, check out these articles: